The city Charter of Stamford, Connecticut requires that they have a director of public safety, health and welfare, who is responsible for the supervision of police, fire, health, social services, paramedics and emergency management. Fair enough, sound like something a city should have; or maybe not.
Stamford, Connecticut Mayor, Michael Pavia, announced Thursday morning that he has appointed former New York Mets and Texas Rangers manager Bobby Valentine to his cabinet as the city's director of public health and safety. Yes, you read that correctly, the guy rumored for every MLB managerial vacancy that opens up is now in charge of the safety for the thousands of citizens and people who work in the fourth largest city in the state of Connecticut and the eighth largest city in New England.
Which brings me to my point; what the hell does Bobby Valentine know about directing and supervising the police, fire, health, social services, paramedics and emergency management of a major city? Out of all the people out of work and or looking to improve their job status, there wasn’t anyone more qualified for the position? Valentines resume is of a guy who was an MLB player for 10 years, followed by being a 3rd base coach, and then managing more than 2,000 games, six seasons in Japan and one trip to the World Series (losing I might add).
If there’s a crisis what is he going to do, pretend the police chief, fire chief and other heads of important civil servant positions are umpires and yell at them? Will he be attending work in his mustache disguise or dressed as himself? Will he just give everyone the finger if he doesn’t like what he sees?
The public safety director job is a cabinet-level position that typically pays between $118,000 and $138,000. Pavia eliminated funding for the job and appointed himself to the vacant position shortly after taking office a year ago as a cost-saving measure. The move saved the city $122,000, but changes in the city's health department freed up enough money to pay a public safety director's salary for the first six months of 2011, which is the second half of the fiscal year. The city had been searching for a new director for several months. The position's full salary will have to be added to next year's budget.
To Valentines credit he will be taking no money for the position. Valentine will be paid $10,000 per year, but he will donate that money to Stamford charities.
"This is a non-salary position," Valentine said. "To receive is wonderful, to give is divine, I guess." At least they are paying him appropriately for his experience.
In early December, ESPN announced that the former player and manager would serve as an analyst for its Sunday Night Baseball broadcasts as part of a three-man booth that will include Dan Shulman and former pitcher Orel Hershiser. The job will take him to ballparks across the country during baseball season. Valentine said his full-time job as a baseball analyst for ESPN would not interfere with his ability to serve as Stamford's health and public safety director. He said his work for ESPN will mainly consume night and weekend hours, leaving the days free to oversee Stamford's health and safety departments.
"I get up early, I go to bed late," said Valentine. "There's plenty of hours in the day that I get to do the things that I need to do."
To be fair, Valentine does in fact have SOME job experience. Valentine has been involved with city government since last winter, when Pavia tapped him to head a task force charged with advising the mayor on a restructuring of the city's fire departments.
Valentine is a longtime Stamford resident and prominent member of the community. His sports restaurant, Bobby Valentine's Sports Gallery Cafe, was an important component of the revitalization of downtown Stamford when it opened in Columbus Park in 1980. In 2007, Valentine launched the popular Bobby Valentines Sports Academy on Camp Avenue. Last Friday, Valentine was recognized as Stamford's Citizen of the Year in an early morning ceremony at Government Center.
I honestly can’t tell you if this is a good thing for the people of Stamford or not. Valentine is certainly saving the city money and at first glance I supposed should be credited with taking on the responsibility of an important city task while receiving nothing other than good will in return.
I sure hope the Mayor knows what he’s doing and has thinks like a plan B in place if Valentine takes a MLB position. As for Valentine, I know he wants to manage again but this sure seems like a lot of work to do to manage the Stamford Mayor’s Office softball team. - Mike Cardano
Mike is the founder of Around the Horn Baseball and Xtra Point Football.
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